Analysis and Pro Opinions
"Hana Song, also known as "D.Va," is both a world champion professional gamer and a burgeoning global icon. As a member of South Korea’s elite MEKA unit, she fights to protect her homeland from the colossal omnic threat lurking within the East China Sea."
StarCraft’s most decorated player has joined the Nexus, bringing with her a powerful sidearm and an agile mecha. An adept team player, D.Va is strong in teamfights and also brings key map control and point denial with her Self Destruct.
As yet another Overwatch hero, D.Va's abilities have transferred over to Heroes of the Storm without much tinkering. So far she's proven to be the most balanced of the Overwatch heroes, sitting comfortably at about a 50% win rate, but she's still far from being perfect. Let's break down her kit and see what all the fuss is about!
Strengths and Weaknesses
Strengths - Mech Mode
Weaknesses - Mech Mode
- Mobile over short distances
- Auto attacks cleave, can move while shooting
- "Unlimited" life bars
Weaknesses - Mech Mode
- Weak attack damage
- No hard CC
- Poor peel for teammates
Strengths - Pilot Mode
Weaknesses - Pilot Mode
- Significant single-target damage
- Incredibly survivable with Call Mech
Weaknesses - Pilot Mode
- No mobility
- Limited kit
- While in her Mech, D.Va can shoot while moving, but her Movement Speed is reduced by 15.01%.
- Mech Mode
- When D.Va’s Mech dies, she is ejected out after 0.75 seconds and can continue to fight. D.Va’s Mech only gives 50% of a normal Hero’s experience upon dying.
- Pilot Mode
- Basic Attacks reduce the cooldown of Call Mech by 0.50 seconds. As a Pilot, D.Va only awards 50% of a normal Hero's experience upon dying.
- Boosters (Q)
- Increase D.Va's Movement Speed by 125% for 2 seconds. Enemies that are hit take 135 damage and are knocked away. D.Va cannot be Slowed while Boosters are active. 10 second cooldown.
- Defense Matrix (W)
- Channel a defensive field in the target direction for 3 seconds, reducing the damage dealt by enemy Heroes inside it by 75%. The Mech can move while channeling, but cannot turn. 10 second cooldown. Damage dealt to the Mech from enemies within Defense Matrix still grants the same amount of Self-Destruct Charge.
- Self-Destruct (E)
- Eject from the Mech, setting it to self-destruct after 4 seconds. Deals 400 to 1200 damage in a large area, depending on distance from center. Only deals 50% damage against Structures. Gain 1% Charge for every 2 seconds spent Basic Attacking, and 30% Charge per 100% of Mech Health lost.
- Bunny Hop (R)
- D.Va's Mech becomes Unstoppable and stomps every 0.5 seconds, dealing 60 damage and Slowing enemies by 40%. Lasts 4 seconds. 100 second cooldown. Requires Mech Mode.
- Big Shot (R)
- Deal 250 damage to all enemies in a line. The cooldown of Call Mech is reduced by 8 seconds for each enemy Hero hit. 4 second cooldown. Requires Pilot Mode.
D.Va is a collection of mechanics that all existed in the game already but come together into something new and unique. Like Greymane, D.Va is a hero with two distinct forms, each with completely different stats and uses. As a low-damage bruiser, D.Va’s role is to disrupt and annoy the enemy team while her team out-damages and out-sustains them—she plays like a combination of Diablo and Murky, diving onto a target for her team and drawing a lot of fire towards herself. Good management of her Mech cooldowns can let her survive anything. When she uses Call Mech in Pilot Mode, her health resets to full, and when she uses Self-Destruct in Mech Mode, the Call Mech cooldown is reset, giving her theoretically “infinite” health bars.
For all that, her mechanical quirks can leave her feeling awkward to control. Her movement speed is reduced in Mech Mode, and while she can attack while moving, her range is short and she slowly pivots to face her target. Defense Matrix is a key ability, but using it locks D.Va’s facing direction during its channel. Most awkwardly, Boosters is supposed to be able to be cancelled early, allowing D.Va to be precise in where she begins and ends the ability—but Heroes of the Storm has a global cooldown of one second where Boosters can’t be cancelled.
But despite her strengths, it’s not uncommon to see D.Va flounder ineffectively as her player struggles to control her. It’s not just that she has a high skill cap, she’s just very different from any other bruiser hero.
Players who decide to stick with D.Va will find a fun and rewarding, versatile kit with lots of utility and damage that seems low but adds up over time. Her win rates after one week are holding steady at just above 51%. Like Rexxar or Abathur, D.Va probably won’t be for everyone whether she’s meta or not.
In Mech Mode, D.Va is is a front line tank whose survivability depends on Defense Matrix. Using this ability creates a cone-shaped field in front of her, reducing the damage of enemy heroes standing in the cone by 75%. This helps D.Va make positive trades in lane and really shines in teamfights. The damage done in Mech Mode is low, but D.Va is content to let her team deal damage while nullifying the enemy team’s response.
Outside of Defense Matrix, the mech doesn’t have any other armor or sustain tools, so she can be squishy for a tank. Boosters can be a great escape, letting D.Va be aggressive without fear, but the knockback makes it a great engagement or disengagement tool as well. Don’t underestimate the damage of the impact itself, either. Bunny Hop, the Heroic option for Mech Mode, allows D.Va to hold an enemy team in place and prevent an escape, making her an even better tank with multiple options to engage or peel.
In Pilot Mode, D.Va becomes a ranged auto attacker with high sustained damage. This form has no abilities, but her auto attacks do the same DPS as a Valla or Tychus. Her damage is even higher if players select Big Shot, making her a respectable threat in a teamfight even without a mech. Pilot Mode D.Va’s strengths are inverted from Mech Mode; she has no mobility or utility to offer a team outside of her damage. But her ability to call a new mech and reset herself in a fight will make her frustrating for enemies to deal with, and Big Shot’s range gives her poke and waveclear. The vulnerable, lethal damage dealer offered by Pilot Mode is a big mental adjustment from the Mech Mode tank, but a D.Va who can shift gears and weave both forms together can be a menace to the enemy team.
D.Va’s talents at every tier are built around a theme. Similar to The Lost Vikings, her talents include more active abilities for her kit. Pilot D.Va can choose between increased damage, or range, or armor, while Mech D.Va is offered a suite of different utility choices for Defense Matrix.
Diverting Power at level 4 stuns D.Va but makes the zone truly enormous, and Dazer Zone at level 7 adds a slow to the field, giving D.Va more soft crowd control.
Level 13 gives Mech Mode different options for survival, and is a significant power spike for D.Vas who are the main tank for their team. Ablative Armor is the stand-out here, if the enemy team is focused on sustained damage. Expensive Plating helps protect against burst, and a flat HP increase is hardly a bad choice, but if the enemy comp allows it, Ablative Armor has synergy with Defense Matrix and lets friendly supports heal D.Va more efficiently.
I think in some ways the kit is a bit awkward. She has a huge influence with the explosion, but not much without. Because of her not being able to sidelane, I think it’s gonna be hard to fit her in competitive. If she does see play, it’s gonna be on objective-heavy maps like Infernal Shrines where she can win through her mech explosion.
I don't play Overwatch, but people tell she is even more annoying in that game—I find that hard to believe. Executed well, the timing of going back and forth between mech and pilot mode is one of the most frustrating things to play against, which I gather is the point. I personally love her kit, and her design makes her feel like a really different kind of hero.
I expect her prioritization at the Mid-Season Brawl to start low and gradually get higher. It'll only be a question of team's confidence in their practice on her and with her. It is hard to pinpoint where she fits in a draft. Is she a flex spot? Can she be a bruiser? Is she a ranged? Teams need to establish how they want to use her so they can figure out who is playing her, which is harder than it sounds given her highly unusual kit. Caveat: The mech currently has a few bugged interactions, and bugged heroes are restricted from competitive play, so D.Va may not be allowed until after MSB, in which case I expect her to perform well in EU first and then spread.
I wouldn't be surprised to see her in quad warrior compositions where she is essentially the ranged carry some of the time or compositions with armor and shielding to buffer her pilot health pool (fifth lowest in the game behind Abathur, Murky, and two of The Lost Vikings). Her single target PvE damage in pilot mode is incredibly high, so maps like BoE or Cursed Hollow where the late game bosses are the real objective are going to be a priority for her. The mech has intense zoning potential on Infernal Shrines and helps race the objective. It is interesting that different parts of her kit excel on different maps, so how you play her has to change slightly.
D.Va is doing reasonably well in the wild. Her mech form has waveclear, which is something that makes any hero near automatically viable, and she has significant late game power spikes. She continues a trend of hero releases in which really good judgement, timing, and execution will allow her to be a huge playmaking hero for teams. That’s only going to raise the standard for drafting and play from professional and amateur teams.
Blizzard has done a amazing job with every one of their Overwatch characters in Heroes of the Storm, and I feel that D.Va might be their best yet. She is classified as a warrior but fits more into the front line bruiser column. Great mitigation and zone control, same as Overwatch, but the way you can handle her different modes (mech/pilot) along with her talent choices blends in nicely with the overall feel and makes her an interesting [hero to play].
As I am playing, there are times where I want to be in pilot mode for something, so it really brought out an extra level of gameplay trying to set up opportunities to get into Pilot mode for something while balancing self-destruct charges and other things.
Her skill set is quite different from a lot of other heroes in HotS at the moment, which might make some newer players unsure how to play her. She has Boosters in place of a mount, so her rotations can be slow. Self-destruct ability locks her out of her abilities and puts into weaken state. Along with Heroics that function only in mech or pilot mode, it all adds up to a hero that will have a higher skill ceiling than most.
Now this isn't bad; her abilities are just different, and it will take some time for players understand her impact. It’s what makes her so fun and interesting to play.
[She’ll be played on] any small to medium sized battlegrounds with narrow chokes and pathways.
Cursed Hollow, Infernal Shrines, Sky Temple, and Towers of Doom I feel are her top maps. Sky Temple is one of the larger maps, but her zoning shines on the object points, as it will cause the opponents to run and loose cap time. Rotations could be an issue for her if the player hasn't thought about it in advance, though.
I can't wait to see D.Va in competitive play. I think she has a strong place against dive and melee heavy comps but suffers vs poke comps, and high burst heroes will be able to take her out once the mech has been destroyed. She is also lacking any solid CC, so someone else on the roster will have to fill in that gap. In the right situation, her zoning and mitigation can be some of the most impactful abilities in the game.
I feel we will see a lot of D.Va in the HGC from all regions. The zoning and mitigation is just too good on her...in the hands of the right player, I might add.
I usually like to watch others play it before i can judge. I only really know how to play her because I’ve played her in Overwatch, and her kits actually pretty different in both games. Defense Matrix, for example, is just a weird frontal AoE, which I hate because it blocks projectiles in Overwatch. i guess they had to change a lot of things to fit into the MOBA genre, but at times it feels like they're trying too hard.
I see lots of D.Va play in Hero League, but that's the stupidest measure of what defines a region’s meta. She's strong as hell right now, and in good hands any hero can look amazing, but I don’t really see her being played a lot in any competitive region, just because she lacks a place in team compositions with her kit. She's considered a bruiser but she sucks at laning in almost every matchup, especially with things like Alarak, who completely destroys her, being picked up. If she isn’t laning, then you're most likely picking her in a 4-man or as a flanker, which again she's pretty weak at. Overall, her main strengths probably lie in her ability to teamfight and disrupt the backline extremely well. She has incredibly strong zoning potential and damage mitigation in choke points and enclosed areas, which makes her good for aggressive plays like invading camps and bosses, pushing teams out of position, and splitting up the battlefield.
But again, she's just so difficult to draft in strong comps because that's all she can do: teamfight. Once you remove that aspect, you're not playing to her strengths.
Definitely looking forward to the upcoming brawl to see other teams pick her and what they do with it, but I don’t expect more than a few picks every now and then…[she’s] definitely not meta-shaping for pick/bans in relation to the other bruisers and tanks in the game.
Map-wise, she excels on kind of niche sort of mechanics like Braxis and Shrines. She can just put her nuke on top of a wave or the shrine and it secures so much.
To conclude, I guess I think she's not really a great hero, she's just annoying. Her role is to be disruptive and to be unkillable and mainly just soak/mitigate as much damage as possible.